July 3, 2012
Failure To Report Love Offerings Was Tax Evasion, Rules Fourth Circuit
North Carolina pastors claimed they didn't report $2.5 million because they believed love offerings were untaxable.
Anthony and Harriet Jinwright, former co-pastors of Greater Salem Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, have returned to prison following an appeals court’s affirmation of a lower court ruling against them in December 2010 for failing to report nearly $2.5 million in taxable income between 2001 and 2007.
“To allow the most clever, inventive, and sophisticated wrongdoers to hide behind a constant and conscious purpose of avoiding knowledge of criminal misconduct would be an injustice in its own right,” the appeals court wrote in its decision last week.
The Jinwrights were convicted of tax evasion in May 2010 following a four-week trial that involved the admission of over 90,000 pages of documentary evidence and the testimonies of more than 70 witnesses, according to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. A majority of the witnesses claimed that Greater Salem “spent lavishly to support the Jinwrights, paying for costs such as luxury cars, vacations, and college tuition for the couple’s daughter,” reports the Charlotte Observer.
In their appeal, the couple argued they did not plan to intentionally defraud the government, as they considered most of their financial gains to be “love offerings” and “gifts” instead of income. The appeal was rejected on all points last week by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The couple will continue to serve out their sentences in prison, as well as attempt to pay a seven-figure restitution to the federal government.
CT has reported on the confusion over whether love offerings given to pastors are always taxable income.